Learning to Drive Review - An Adventure Worth Taking

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Learning to Drive, from Broad Green Pictures, presents a contemporary coming of age drama, of modernity and tradition, of culture, guiding principles, the marriage of ying and yang and the desire to fully embrace change.

Starring Patricia Clarkson, Sir Ben Kingsley, Jake Weber, Sarita Choudhury and Grace Gummer, Learning to Drive was directed by Isabel Coixet and written by Sarah Kernochan.

Learning to Drive, begins with Darwan, played brilliantly by Sir Ben Kingsley, instructing students to drive, gently explaining, the method, complete immersion, hands on the wheel, no fear, explaining with the watchfulness of a seasoned instructor he nurses sixteen-year-old's, the next wave of road warriors, with care and dedication.

Typical of most New Yorkers, Darwan has a second life, this one behind the wheel of a New York taxi. A cab driver cruising the mean streets looking for fares which is where our story begins.

Wendy, portrayed with precision, by Patricia Clarkson, an accomplished, driven, intelligent and highly revered book critic, which we meet at, of course, the most awkward, lonely and depressing time of her well planned adult life as her husband, Ted, played by Jake Weber, has told her he intends to leave her.

The two stumble out of the restaurant, screaming, he jumps into the nearest taxi, hoping to escape. Shestops the driver from leaving, and the two, once the envy of friends and colleagues, share a final angry, hurtful, ride to the brownstone, the home they built, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

The once lovers end their life together with a ride punctuated with screams and insults, an oddly long incubation period, births life anew. 

The next scenes, drunken induced hallucinations of the old life, the memories, crash at full speed into the brick wall of reality and Wendy is up vomiting. The night was real, he did leave.

Suddenly it is daytime again and a knock on the door reminds her of life on the outside which is where we met Tasha, played by Grace Gummer, who lightly questions her mother on the separation while explaining how she is working on an organic farm in Vermont, with a land man, from Dartmouth, and the investment into the ivy league education, well . . . The two have a decade old discussion of why she never learned to drive and she can’t come to visit because she can’t drive. To which, Wendy definitively states “I’ll learn to drive.”

Darwan, our cab driver, discovered in the back of his taxi a package addressed to Wendy. Darwan is a man of deep religious, devout faith. Although not stated he seems to have a belief in karma, and with that heads up to the Upper West Side, package in hand, he knocks on the door, returning the manuscript.

Suddenly, as if the universe collided and destiny, kismet, happenstance or whatever you attribute fate beckons and she sees the ‘Learn to Drive' sign on his car. Propelled forward she, suddenly empowered, free, determined, makes the appointment.

This is where Learning to Drive shifts into high gear and builds as the two, Darwan and Wendy, are alone in a very confined space, not only learning to drive but learning about each other and the customs and principals that guide their lives.

Having the opportunity to speak with both Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson at the Los Angeles Media Day and hearing each of them describe the roles and how they interpreted the relationship was very interesting and left me wondering.

Speaking with Mr. Kingsley the issue of defined class lines as his character, as well spoken, caring and educated as he was and a naturalized American citizen, his character maintained the customs of his natural culture, instead of adopting a westernized lifestyle.

He was a transplanted Punjabi living in Queens, New York. He may have changed location but didn’t change lifestyles or cultures. When asked about this, Mr. Kingsley, explains the characters “wisely” make a choice opposite of what the audience may think they see on the horizon.

To me, I found, even as charming as Mr. Kinsley portrayed Darwan, the cultural distance between the two seemed a chasm impossible to cross and she, Wendy, intertwined in the final moments of her character she seems to understand the wonderful person, whom she met at a moment in deep distress became a savior so to speak, someone that gave her freedom, a guide through a severe season of upheaval and became fondly remembered as a seasonal friend.

Ms. Clarkson, described it as “the ying and yang.” The understanding of balance and the two balance.

Learning to Drive, a centric New York story of empowerment, invokes memories of those learning to drive days or for some the first time navigating the streets of Manhattan with the cacophony of city life challenging.

Learning to Drive is charming, unusual, passionate, and illuminating. The cast is delightful. Sarita Choudhury portrays her role perfectly. Grace Gummer, in her single scene, shines. Kingsley and Clarkson paired again are wonderful, each fully committed, immersed and engaged.

Learning to Drive opens August 21, 2015. 

Haute Tease

  • World News: Israel Makes History April 9 With First-Ever Judeo-Christian Party on Ballot

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    With all focus on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, a middle-east expert and leader of a Judeo-Christian political party, Avi Lipkin has gained traction in the polls in the historical upcoming April 9, election.

  • Seven Foods To Eat For Better Skin, Hair, and Mood

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    All symptoms of the body from thin, dull hair, and sallow skin, to acne breakouts, body aches and sluggish energy all point to the gut. Gut health is incredibly important making mindful eating an essential part of longevity and anti-aging.

  • World News: The European Dwarf

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Together politically successful, the European Union remains unable to act collectively in the face of the Turkish crisis. This inability reveals internal tensions within the Union but also its marginal role at the international level.

  • World News: Heat Wave Disrupts French Government

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The heat wave that is currently raging in France also questions the adaptability of a modern country in the face of climate change. France, and the countries of the world, will necessarily face and manage a precipitous change.

  • Philae Spacecraft Makes Historic Comet Landing

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The European Space Agency, with the assistance from the space docking launching station Rosetta, has robotically landed, which was live-streamed, the unmanned Philae Spacecraft on a comet recording and the first ever such landing by any space agency.

  • Amsterdam Exposed Book Review - Edgy, Scandalous; An Unforgettable Read

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Amsterdam Exposed: An American’s Journey through the Red Light District, from De Wallen Press and Beverly Hills entertainment executive David Wienir, grabs your attention, thrashing your senses with each page and delivers a shocking look into the forbidden.

  • Colorado Flooding Surpasses All Records

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    After seven days of rain, Colorado is bracing for the recovery effort in the wake of an apocalyptic storm that left a total of eight dead, hundreds unaccounted for and homes, buildings, bridges and roads washed away.

  • Money News: DOW, World Markets Close Up; Nikkei Sinks

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The DOW Jones Industrial Average, as well as nine of the top ten world markets, rallied as investor confidence once again returned, to the global stage, with economies and markets exhibiting strong gains across the board.

  • Artist Jocelyn Josef Holds Premiere Art Show of Picasso Inspired Cubism

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Join us on July 23rd, 24th or 25th for a unique Pop Up Art show in the heart of Los Feliz. Celebrate  artist Jocelyn Josef, who is featured on Huffington Post Arts & Culture blogwill be showcased at a pop up art event.

  • Everlast, World Leader in Boxing Gear, Partners with PIQ to Launch the Ultimate Boxing Wearable at CES: [Sands, Hall A-D, booth 44727]

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    PIQ Sport Intelligence, a leading French start-up in sports Wearables, and Everlast, the leading brand in boxing, announced a new partnership at the Consumer Electronics Show that will see the two companies combine their expertise.

  • I Am The Night Review - Palpable Intrigue As Secrets Become Exposed

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    I Am the Night, the upcoming TNT limited series directed in part by Patty Jenkins, tells the story of the infamous Los Angeles gynecologist, Dr. George Hodel, his family and the sinister secrets that bind them together.

  • LION Review – Powerful Stand Out Performances In This Remarkable True Story

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    LION, from The Weinstein Company, presents a powerful story of a boy lost in one of the most dangerous cities in the world for children, of escape, of and finally finding hope again decades later.

  • Un Etrange Dessein… ?

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    En assassinant l’un des piliers de la République islamique d’Iran, Donald Trump prend le risque d’une escalade militaire et diplomatique incontrôlable. Pourtant, le dessein présidentiel est peut-être autre. Explications.

  • L’heure des Comptes

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    La sortie progressive du confinement pousse les populations mondiales à s’interroger sur la pertinence des moyens déployés pour lutter contre le virus. Légitime ou non, la question invite les dirigeants mondiaux à s’expliquer. Non sans risque.  

  • World Cities Celebrate New Year's Eve

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    From Sydney, St. Petersburg, and Dubai to New York, London and Hong Kong, cities throughout the world welcomed 2014 with brilliant, dazzling displays of pyrotechnic majesty, revelry, champagne toasts and midnight kisses.